BENEATHA (Eagerly opening the package and drawing out some records and the colorful robes of a Nigerian woman) Oh, Asagai! . . . You got them for me! . . . How beautiful . . . and the records too! (She lifts out the robes and runs to the mirror with them and holds the drapery up in front of herself) ASAGAI (Coming to her at the mirror) I shall have to teach you how to drape it properly. (He flings the material about her for the moment and stands back to look at her) Ah Oh-pay-gay~day, oh-gbah-mu-shay. (A Yoruba exclamation for admiration) You wear it well . . . very well . . . mutilated hair and all. A RAISIN IN THE SUN 61 BENEATHA (Turning suddenly) My hair what's wrong with my hair? ASAGAI (Shrugging) Were you born with it like that? BENEATHA (Reaching up to touch it) No ... of course not. (She looks back to the mirror, disturbed) (Smiling) How then? BENEATHA You know perfectly well how ... as crinkly as yours . . . that's how. 14
ASAGAI And it is ugly to you that way? BENEATHA (Quickly) Oh, no not ugly . . . (More slowly, apologetically) But it's so hard to manage when it's, well raw. ASAGAI And so to accommodate that you mutilate it every week? BENEATHA It's not mutilation! ASAGAI (Laughing aloud at her seriousness) Oh ... please! I am only teasing you because you are so very serious about these things. (He stands back from her and folds his arms across his chest as he watches her pulling at her hair and frowning in the minor) Do you remember the first time you met me at school? . . . (He laughs) You came up to .me and you said and I thought you were the most serious little thing I had ever seen you said: (He imitates her) "Mr. Asagai I want very much to talk with you. About Africa. You see, Mr. Asagai, I am looking for my identity! 9 ' (He laughs) BENEATHA (Turning to him, not laughing) Yes (Her face is quizzical, profoundly disturbed) 62 A RAISIN IN THE SUN ASAGAI (Still teasing and reaching out and taking her face in his hands and turning her profile to him) Well . . . it is true that this is not so much a profile of a Holly- wood queen as perhaps a queen of the Nile (A mock dismissal of the importance of the question) But what does it matter? Assimilationism is so popular in your country. BENEATHA (Wheeling, passionately, sharply) I am not an assimilationist! ASAGAI (The protest hangs in the room for a moment and ASAGAI studies her, his laughter fading) Such a seri- ous one, (There is a pause) So you like the robes? You must take excellent care of them they are from my sister's personal wardrobe. BENEATHA (With incredulity) You you sent all the way home for me? ASAGAI (With charm) For you I would do much more . . . Well, that is what I came for. I must go. BENEATHA Will you call me Monday? ASAGAI Yes . . . We have a great deal to talk about. I mean about identity and time and all that. BENEATHA Time? ASAGAI Yes. About how much time one needs to know what one feels.
- Spring '17
- 2008 singles, Ruth, Mama, RUTH Walter, BENEATHA Ruth, RUTH Travis